Category Archives: Bigotry

Malaka Of The Week: Paul Congemi

It’s been quite some time since I wrote a “never heard of them and hope to never hear of them again” malaka of the week post. The time is nigh. And that is why Paul Congemi is malaka of the week.

Congemi is best described as a minor league Insult Comedian. He’s running for Mayor of St. Petersburg-Florida, not Russia-and lost his shit at a candidates forum the other night and attacked one of his opponents thusly:

After the assertion was made he was a “non-factor” in the race, Mayoral Candidate Paul Congemi snapped back at members of the Uhuru movement and their candidate, Jesse Nevel during a mayoral debate July 18 in St. Pete.

Congemi’s response was one many may not have expected.

“Mr. Nevel you and your people talk about reparations. The reparations that you talk about, Mr. Nevel, your people already got your reparations. Your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama,” Congemi said, pointing a finger at the audience as he spoke.

He continued, “My advice to you, if you don’t like it here in America, planes leave every hour from Tampa airport. Go back to Africa. Go back to Africa. Go back!”

He seems nice.

This is what Trump has wrought. People feel free to say things in public that shouldn’t even be uttered privately. Malaka Congemi’s diatribe is not an isolated incident: hate crimes are on the rise. Do you want to see video? We have embedded video:

Perhaps the best thing about this story is the punworthy name of the reporter, Evan Axelbank. I could pun on that name until the cows come home but I won’t. Why? I don’t want a broken axel, you can take that to the bank. I guess that promise was evanescent…

I support the right of minor candidates to run for municipal office. Here in New Orleans, perennial candidate Manny Chevrolet Bruno is making his umpteenth run for Mayor with the recurring slogan, “a troubled man for troubled times.” Congemi is just plain trouble since this is his idea of an apology:

On Wednesday, Congemi clarified his remarks, saying that his advice was meant only for Nevel’s group of supporters. “Not all African Americans. Just those that Nevel represents,” Congemi wrote in a statement sent to the Tampa Bay Times.

The Uhuru Solidarity Movement organizes white people to join Africans in their struggle to “reclaim their land, labor, resources, and self-determination,” according to its website.

It fights for reparations to redress systemic discrimination against black people.

Oh, it’s only the uppity ones, not the good ones. Now where have we heard that before?

I wonder if David Dukkke has any plans to campaign for Congemi. The latter might as well go all the way in his campaign since he has no chance of winning. And that is why Paul Congemi is malaka of the week.

The last word goes to  my homeys, the Meters:

Oh yeah, hat tip to Lamar White Jr. of the Bayou Brief.

Look Who Just Showed Up, Everybody!

It’s the anthropologists of Real America, again, making sure we hear from a guy who carries Grover Norquist’s bags around! 

In 1997, Patterson was riding in a car that was hit by a drunk driver, and the bones of his left arm were shattered into several dozen pieces. After six surgeries, he suffered permanent nerve damage, decreased arm mobility, and no future as a closeup magician. Having acquired his G.E.D., he enrolled in classes at the University of Miami. The quality of Patterson’s writing impressed an instructor, who persuaded him to apply to Columbia. The year that Patterson turned thirty, he became an Ivy League freshman. He majored in classics. Every night, he translated four hundred lines of ancient Greek and Latin. In class, he often argued with professors and students.

“The default view seemed to be that Western civilization is inherently bad,” he told me. In one history seminar, when students discussed the evils of the Western slave trade, Patterson pointed out that many cultures had practiced slavery, but that nobody decided to eradicate it until individuals in the West took up the cause. The class booed him. In Patterson’s opinion, most people at Columbia believed that only liberal views were legitimate, whereas his experiences in Grand Junction, and his textbook lessons from magic, indicated otherwise. (“States of mind are no different than feats of manual dexterity. Both can be learned through patience and diligence.”)

“Look, I’m a high-school dropout who went to an Ivy League school,” Patterson said. “I’ve seen both sides. The people at Columbia are not smarter.” He continued, “I went to Columbia at the height of the Iraq War. There were really legitimate arguments against going into Iraq. But I found that the really good arguments against going were made by William F. Buckley, Bob Novak, and Pat Buchanan. What I saw on the left was all slogans and group thought and clichés.”

Patterson graduated with honors and a reinvigorated sense of political conviction. For the past seven years, he’s worked for conservative nonprofit organizations, most recently in anti-union activism. In 2013, the United Auto Workers tried to unionize a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, where Patterson demonstrated a knack for billboards and catchphrases. On one sign, he paired a photograph of a hollowed-out Packard plant with the words “Detroit: Brought to You by the UAW.” Another billboard said “United Auto Workers,” with the word “Auto” crossed out and replaced by “Obama,” written in red.

In Patterson’s opinion, such issues are cultural and emotional as much as economic. He believes that unions once served a critical function in American industry, but that the leadership, like that of the Democratic Party, has drifted too far from its base. Union heads back liberal candidates such as Obama and Clinton while dues-paying members tend to hold very different views. Patterson also thinks that free trade, which he once embraced as a conservative, has damaged American industries, and he now supports some more protectionist measures. His message resonated in Chattanooga, where, in 2014, workers delivered a stinging defeat to the U.A.W. Since then, Patterson has continued his advocacy in communities across the country, under the auspices of Americans for Tax Reform, which was founded by the conservative advocate Grover Norquist. “So now I bust unions for Grover Norquist with a classics degree and as a former magician,” he told me.

He’s a flack. You sent a reporter to the Real America, NewGoddamnYorker, and you found a GOP flack with a funny backstory, and you used him as an example of why Trump won. You let him say a thousand words that all boil down to racism (unions were fine until black people and brown immigrants started to benefit) and this is how Trump is transforming rural America? This asshole lives in Washington DC, no matter where he came from, and he’s paid to push a line you’ve bit on. Nice job.

The entire piece is an exercise in how to let white people avoid saying “racism,” perhaps best exemplified in this paragraph:

Before Trump took office, people I met in Grand Junction emphasized pragmatic reasons for supporting him. The economy was in trouble, and Trump was a businessman who knew how to make rational, profit-oriented decisions. Supporters almost always complained about some aspect of his character, but they also believed that these flaws were likely to help him succeed in Washington. “I’m not voting for him to be my pastor,” Kathy Rehberg, a local real-estate agent, said. “I’m voting for him to be President. If I have rats in my basement, I’m going to try to find the best rat killer out there. I don’t care if he’s ugly or if he’s sociable. All I care about is if he kills rats.”

That’s not loaded language at all when you’re a white lady talking about a candidate who campaigned on promises to boot illegal immigrants from the country.

These people similarly seem really nice:

The calculus seemed to have shifted: Trump’s negative qualities, which once had been described as a means to an end, now had value of their own. The point wasn’t necessarily to get things done; it was to retaliate against the media and other enemies. This had always seemed fundamental to Trump’s appeal, but people had been less likely to express it so starkly before he entered office. “For those of us who believe that the media has been corrupt for a lot of years, it’s a way of poking at the jellyfish,” Karen Kulp told me in late April. “Just to make them mad.”

If you think this is new, you must have slept through the last 40 fucking years. Republican legislators have been making their bones attacking journalists and universities for DECADES. Until recently, they didn’t have a compliant media machine of their own to amplify their resentments, whip them up to turn on their neighbors white and otherwise, and suppress the votes of those they thought were looking down on them.

For as long as there have been public universities and newspapers, there have been assholes attacking them as anti-American. Once upon a time, though, we didn’t mount expeditions into the assholes’ native territory with the aim of understanding the people who wanted us dead.

In Grand Junction, it was often dispiriting to see such enthusiasm for a figure who could become the ultimate political boom-and-bust. There was idealism, too, and so many pro-Trump opinions were the fruit of powerful and legitimate life experiences. “We just assume that if someone voted for Trump that they’re racist and uneducated,” Jeriel Brammeier, the twenty-six-year-old chair of the local Democratic Party, told me. “We can’t think about it like that.” People have reasons for the things that they believe, and the intensity of their experiences can’t be taken for granted; it’s not simply a matter of having Fox News on in the background. But perhaps this is a way to distinguish between the President and his supporters. Almost everybody I met in Grand Junction seemed more complex, more interesting, and more decent than the man who inspires them.

Maybe they did. But if you are truly so dim as to think that they wouldn’t seem more complex, more interesting and more decent TO YOU because YOU’RE A WHITE GUY, I have a membership to Mar-A-Lago to sell you.

They seemed better than the man they voted for? Too bad. They voted for him. I don’t care if they’re racist and uneducated in real life or if they have a bunch of graduate degrees and ten black friends, because they voted for racism and stupidity anyway.

They don’t want people looking down on them? They can fix that really easily by BEING BETTER HUMAN BEINGS.

This whole story is a mess, and the only interesting aspect of it is the idea that voting for Trump is performative, something done not to improve anyone’s life but to make the voter feel powerful and good in a world that tries to snuff such feelings out. I wonder if anyone’s ever made that point before. 

A.

Mr. Bad Example

It just occurred to me that I haven’t suggested any theme songs for the Trump administration* for a few months. In April, I suggested the venerable 10cc tune I Wanna Rule The World as a foreign policy anthem. Today’s suggestion is more in the way of a personal theme song for the loathsome pig who won the electoral college in 2016: Warren Zevon’s Mr. Bad Example.

Before posting the song and lyrics, I’d like to take a slight detour into Your President* Speaks country. The Insult Comedian tweeted something this morning that was despicable even by his low standards. It’s a reminder of what a misogynist asshole he is:

Unlike Dipshit Donald, I don’t watch Morning Joe. He’s lying about that too. I consider plastic surgery jokes the lowest form of humor. I also don’t think that a man who looks like this in tennis shorts should be mocking anyone’s appearance:

Now that’s a scene out of a very white, very cheesy horror movie. I would ordinarily not make fun of anyone’s looks but sometimes one has to fight fire with fire. I wonder how Melania’s anti-cyber bullying thing is going? I believe in the old aphorism: charity begins at home. She should heed it.

Back to Trump’s Mika mockery. It’s not only vile and disgusting, his nickname for her isn’t very good. Psycho Joe ain’t bad but Low IQ Crazy Mika? Gimme a break. That would be stupid coming out of the mouth of a 5-year-old let alone a 70 year-old president* with a fat ass and a nutria atop his head. Btw, the Insult Comedian is an ironic nickname. I never said he was good at insulting people. Nevertheless, he persists.

One more thing about the war of tweets between Donald (I have a good brain) Trump and Ms. Brzezinski. It’s extra gross because her father died a month ago. Surely, Donald heard about Zbig’s death on cable news. He was rather well-known, after all. One might even call it Zbig news…

Now that I’ve horrified you with Donald’s Zbig ass, I’ll Mika up for it by circling back to the ostensible purpose of this post: Warren Zevon’s Mr. Bad Example.  It’s a witty little ditty about a con man, which makes it a perfect signature song for a man who flim-flammed his way to the White House.

WZ was a wordy bastard, so I’ll post the tune before the lyrics. First, the original studio version followed by my fave rave, which is live and acoustic.

I posted both versions hoping to set a good example. Who am I kidding? Here are the lyrics in all their cynical glory:

I started as an altar boy working at the church
Learning all my holy moves, doing some research
Which led me to a cash box labeled “Children’s Fund” —
I’d leave the change and tuck the bills inside my cummerbund

I got a part-time job at my father’s carpet store
Laying tackless stripping and housewives by the score
I loaded up their furniture and took it to Spokane
And auctioned off every last naugahyde divan

I’m very well acquainted with the seven deadly sins
I keep a busy schedule trying to fit them in
I’m proud to be a glutton and I don’t have time for sloth
I’m greedy and I’m angry and I don’t care who I cross

I’m Mr. Bad Example, intruder in the dirt —
I like to have a good time and I don’t care who gets hurt
I’m Mr. Bad Example, take a look at me —
I’ll live to be a hundred and go down in infamy

Of course I went to law school and took a law degree
And counseled all my clients to plead insanity
Then worked in hair replacement swindling the bald
Where very few are chosen and fewer still are called

Then on to Monte Carlo to play chemin de fer
I threw away the fortune I made transplanting hair
I put my last few francs down on a prostitute
Who took me up to her room to perform the flag salute

Whereupon I stole her passport and her wig
And headed for the airport and the midnight flight, you dig?
Fourteen hours later I was down in Adelaide
Looking through the want ads sipping Fosters in the shade

I opened up an agency somewhere down the line
To hire aboriginals to work the opal mines
But I attached their wages and took a whopping cut
And whisked away their workman’s comp and pauperized the lot

I’m Mr. Bad Example, intruder in the dirt —
I like to have a good time and I don’t care who gets hurt
I’m Mr. Bad Example, take a look at me —
I’ll live to be a hundred and go down in infamy

I bought a first class ticket on Malaysian Air
And landed in Sri Lanka none the worse for wear
I’m thinking of retiring from all my dirty deals
I’ll see you in the next life, wake me up for meals

Lost Cause Fest, Mississippi Style

Photograph by Alan Hammons.

The stock line for monuments Lost Causers has been “you’re erasing history.” As you can see above, that’s just what happened next door in Mississippi.

A civil rights historical marker in Mississippi has been vandalized, obliterating information about black teenager Emmett Till, who was kidnapped and lynched in 1955.

The slaying galvanized the civil rights movement when Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, had an open-casket funeral in Chicago to show how her 14-year-old son had been brutalized while he was visiting the Mississippi Delta.

Allan Hammons, whose public relations firm made the marker, said Monday that someone scratched the marker with a blunt tool in May. During the past week, a tour group discovered vinyl panels had been peeled off the back of the metal marker in Money, Mississippi. The panels contained photos and words about Till.

“Who knows what motivates people to do this?” Hammons said, noting that traffic signs are common targets for vandals and shooters in rural areas. “Vandals have been around since the beginning of time.”

I know what motivates people to do such a thing: racism. Given the marker’s relative proximity to New Orleans, it could also be misdirected payback for the removal of the white supremacy monuments here. If that sounds like a stretch, they’re still sitting hillbilly shiva across from the former Jefferson Davis monument. They’re only here on the weekends but they’re still at it.

This is not the first time the Till marker has been vandalized but it’s the most sinister. Bullet holes can be written off as the work of drunken peckerwoods. This cannot. It took time, effort, and planning. It’s the work of sober peckerwoods with malicious intent.

The electoral college victory of president* Trump has ushered in an era of intolerance as well as the new gilded age I’ve written about before. It’s fitting: Jim Crow swept the South *during* the Gilded Age. Trump’s rhetoric about political correctness has given racists and xenophobic bigots a green light to do what they do best; hate.

Trump is too dim and self-absorbed to feel any regrets over the malign forces he has unleashed. Shallow thy name is Donald. I’d like to point out that D.W. Griffith *did* feel some regrets over the turmoil caused by The Birth of a Nation. It led to a second epic, Intolerance. It was too diffuse and arty to have the same impact but it showed that Griffith was human and capable of  minimal growth. The Insult Comedian is not. But you knew that already.

Back to the notion of “erasing history.” I’m against it, but continue to believe that who or what we honor says a lot about who we are as a people. The Lee and Davis monuments were erected to honor white supremacy and a war that was waged to preserve human bondage. The Emmett Till marker was put up to honor a young man whose lynching helped inspire the Civil Rights movement.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: intent is everything. The Civil Rights movement is worthy of public celebration, white supremacy is not. It’s not the erasure of history to celebrate the positive whilst castigating the negative. I do not want anyone to forget slavery, segregation, and racial violence. I just don’t want them celebrated in the public green.

 

First Draft Potpourri For $400, Alex

Remember when we had the odd slow news weekend? That’s become a rarity in the era of the Insult Comedian and the failed Republican Congress. The scandals and bad legislation keep flying at us like Russian malware attacks. Hence this recurring feature. I’m not planning to restrict First Draft Potpourri to just one day. I prefer to be like the Scarlet Pimpernel:

They seek him here, they seek him there.

Those Frenchies seek him everywhere, that damned elusive pimpernel.

Frenchies? I guess that’s not too bad as ethnic slurs go. Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan stepped in a pile of guinea doo-doo by referring to “Dago Red” wine in an interview that consisted of slamming the Italian-American leader of his caucus, Nancy D’Alessandro Pelosi. Ryan subsequently apologized for using what he claimed was the local lingo in his part of Ohio. Attaboy, Timmy. I wonder if you’ve been called the other M word recently; Malaka. Probably not.

Many New Orleans eateries used to carry an item called the “wop salad.” I took the pulse of my community and found only one place in the metro area that still calls it that. It’s Rocky and Carlo’s in Chalmette. It’s in St. Bernard Parish which once had a councilman named Joey DiFatta. That’s apropos of nothing but I miss him. It’s doubtful that the Chalmatians feel the same way.

Let’s get back to Nancy Smash, she’s become the anti-pinup girl for GOP fundraisers and mad men. It’s no surprise: they’re particularly fond of slamming powerful women. I was, however, gobsmacked that some of the simpler folk on twitter think this is a new move. Wingnuts have always had a target or three in Congress: Ted Kennedy was their main whipping boy for many years. He was librul and came from a den of inquity/librul city, Boston. Nancy Smash, of course, represents San Francisco, but she remains at heart the daughter of  former Baltimore Mayor Tommy D’Alessandro. She takes the best of machine politics and mashes it up with progressive positions on the issues. She has her critics, but I say bring it on, Berners. If you can get the votes, you win. That is if you know how to count votes. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

Speaking of vote counting, the drama over the Senate health care reform* bill is coming down to a head count. I’m neither as optimistic nor pessimistic as some pro-ACA observers. There are four GOPers who want a worse bill. I think they’re posturing: it’s what Ted Cruz and Aqua Buddha do. The so-called moderates are staging a “woe is me” pantomime but they tend to fold like a drunk with a pair of deuces. Besides, Chinless Mitch will not bring a bill to the floor that he doesn’t have 50 votes + Mike Pence. McConnell is a totally reprehensible human being but the fucker can count. There is, however, an outside possibility that he wants to lose the vote and blame it on the president*.

Time for an account of one of my favorite non-obscene LBJ stories. It involves  a conversation he had with Hubert Humphrey when they served together in the Senate. LBJ looked at HHH and said: “The problem with you liberals Hubert is that you cain’t count. That’s why you cain’t get shit done. Learn to count.” The no-account HHH learned his lesson and applied it when he was lead Senator on the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

I’ve heard rumbling about Jane and Bernie Sanders’ financial dealings for quite some time. Nothing seemed to come of it until recently. It turns out the feds are looking into issues surrounding her tenure as President of Bennington College. I have no idea if there’s anything to it but they’ve lawyered up; hiring Dollar Bill Jefferson’s mouthpiece, Larry Cassidy who also defended Scooter Libby. He lost those cases but has a good reputation. Stay tuned.

The Insult Comedian continues to tweet like a demented moron. It’s annoying as hell but it’s proof positive that he doesn’t know anything about the first rule of holes: if you’re in one, stop digging. He’s also denounced former President Obama for using the word mean. The Darnold seems to think he owns the word. I wonder if he’s coming after Crowded House next?

That concludes this edition of First Draft Potpourri. I’ll be stirring the pot again some time soon. I am relentless.

Why Don’t They Just Move?

Because this, you dipshits: 

Activists took to the streets in the summer of 1967 for 200 consecutive days of fair housing protests, and were sometimes greeted with racial slurs, eggs and rocks as they crossed the Menomonee River, via the 16th Street Viaduct, into the white South Side.

The Common Council eventually ratified a fair housing law in 1968, weeks after the federal government passed its landmark measure.

The racial dividing lines were already drawn, however, and barriers to black upward mobility remained. Even the neighborhood where the baseball slugger Hank Aaron moved in the late 1950s could not avoid a downward spiral. While the black population in the Rufus King area grew from 0.4 percent in 1960 to 89 percent in 1980, its median home value dropped from 9 percent above the city’s median to 23 percent below it, according to “Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods,” a book by John Gurda.

Those historic dynamics of race and housing have not disappeared, either. As recently as 2006, a city government report found that affluent, nonwhite Milwaukeeans were 2.7 times likelier to be denied home loans than white people with similar incomes.

So the bank wouldn’t give your grandparents a home loan, so they had no money to use to lift other family members up, so those family members couldn’t lift up others, and by the way even if they DID bootstrap and such, they’d have had rocks thrown through their windows. For shit’s sake, this is in living memory, this isn’t an ice age ago, so let’s stop with the “why does everything have to be about race anyway” nonsense. It has to be about race because it is about race.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: Get Back

Collage from Une Semaine de Bonte by Max Ernst.

The celestial switch has flipped and it’s full-tilt summer in New Orleans. We’ve also had a lot of rain but not in the classic downpour between 2 and 3 every afternoon pattern. Instead, we’ve had the sort of all day rain that makes one want to curl up in a ball. Of course, Oscar and Della Street need no such excuse, it’s what they do. It’s probably down to climate change but I’m not a meteorologist so what the hell do I know?

Today is the 45th anniversary of the arrest of the Watergate burglars. That scandal is much in the news for some peculiar reason. #sarcasm. One major difference between then and now is that many people argued that Tricky Dick was too smart to be involved in such a stupid crime. We’re not hearing that about the Current Occupant who is easily the most self-destructive and stupid president* in our history. Many think he’s already the worst ever. It’s too early to say, but he’s in a race to the bottom along with George W. Bush, Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan

Let’s move on to a happier subject, this week’s theme song. The Beatles have tightly restricted online access to the original studio versions of their tunes. Fortunately, Get Back was performed by the Fab Four during their legendary London rooftop concert.  We also have Macca on the kinda sorta rooftop of the Ed Sullivan Theatre. I guess that’s what they mean by shouting from the rooftops.

Yeah, I know. It’s called a marquee; not be confused with les Maquis.

It’s unclear to me if Jo Jo ever got back to where he once belonged. We’ll resume our rooftop shout-a-thon after the break. Marquee my words…

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Everything In The World

It was confirmed  this weekend that everything in the world is about Donald Trump. The London bombings were somehow about his immigration policies. I’m not sure how that works anywhere but in his tiny mind. The Insult Comedian also decided it was time to go another round with London Mayor Sadiq Khan. I call it kicking someone when they’re down, but it’s just another day for the WWE/reality teevee president*. Khan’s staff kicked back and got the best of the exchange. It’s usually easy to outargue idiots except in the minds of other idiots. Too many people are worried about placating those idiots. Fuck them.

I spent quite a bit of time in London when the IRA was still actively bombing British targets during The Troubles. I don’t recall people blaming all Catholics for the Provos terrorist campaign. I recall some bad Pat and Mike-style Irish jokes but no calls for internment. Most Brits don’t scare that easily: memories of the Blitz are part of their DNA. That old school stiff upper lip comes in mighty handy at times like this, eh wot? We’ll leave the bed wetting to Trump sycophant Nigel Farage.

Let’s not kid ourselves that Trump’s clumsy attempt to manipulate public opinion after a terrorist attack is anything new. The Bush-Cheney administration waved the bloody flag of 9/11 until the bitter end. It worked during the first term, but eventually people started tuning them out except the same idiots who take Trump seriously. Repeat after me: fuck them.

My favorite response to Trump’s twitter antics came from Never Trump Republican and WaPo columnist Jennifer Rubin:

One is prompted to ask if he is off his rocker. But this is vintage Trump — impulsive and cruel, without an ounce of class or human decency. His behavior no longer surprises us, but it should offend and disturb us, first, that he remains the face and voice of America in the world and, second, that his fans hoot and holler, seeing this as inconsequential or acceptable conduct.

You may recall that Ms Rubin was so pro-Romney in 2012 that we called her his girl friend. I’m not sure if the worm has turned or she woke up and smelled the coffee, but I take special delight in the Never Trump conservatives who refused to sell their souls to the Orange Devil. Most Republican office holders have been binge drinking Trump’s orange Kool-Aid. I eagerly await the hangover.

I officially apologize for the string of cliches in the previous paragraph. It’s what happens when you spend too much time analyzing the Darnold’s thought process. Besides, they worked; certainly harder than the golfer-in-chief.

Just remember, folks: it’s Trump’s world. We only live in it. Since Difford and Tilbrook provided the post title, Squeeze gets the last word:

Instant Update: Trump has attacked Mayor Khan again. The Mayor is, of course, trying to keep his people calm. The Insult Comedian prefers panic in the streets.

 

 

‘This is someone’s child’

It’s important to know that somebody fought back: 

“I was saying, ‘Creator – provide comfort to his family who don’t know you’re here,” she recalled.

An officer called out to her: “You did what you could, it’s time to come off the train.”

[snip]

The next night, Macy met Namkai-Meche’s mother and father at a vigil held by the train stop. She handed his father a purple-painted, heart-shaped rock, her prayer rock.  She said the victim’s parents thanked her for being with their son, telling her that she was “a mamma to our boy in that moment.”

Macy, a single mother of five children who rides the MAX to and from her community college courses at least three times a week, said she just did “what had to be done.”

“I just kept thinking this is someone’s child,” she said.

I read this right after Trump’s election, the idea that if you’re one of those people who loudly fantasizes about killing baby Hitler or whatever, you don’t need to go back in time to figure out who you would have been in the war. You’re in the war. Whatever you’re doing right now is what you would have done then.

(‘Twas ever thus, of course. The world has always been burning. I felt like this after 9/11, all those people talking about how a crisis made them realize what they wanted to be, like the fuck is wrong with you you don’t know what you want to be already? Sometimes my inner pissed-off 19-year-old gets the talking stick.)

So if you’re writing letters, calling reps, volunteering, working, creating spaces for people to think and breathe and be free, if you’re using your power to help others with less, if you’re trying every single day to be kind, to overcome paralysis and exhaustion and worry and reach out to someone else, if you’re doing even a little more than you think you can, that’s who you are in the war. You’re someone’s child too.

A.

Saturday Odds & Sods: All Shook Up

March by Grant Wood.

The monuments aftershocks continue here in New Orleans. I went to a friend’s kid’s birthday party and was warned to skip the subject because there were some rabid Lost Causers invited. They went there, I did not. I asked for a gold star but did not get one. I considered pitching a fit but thought better of it.

While we’re on the subject of the late monuments, I have two articles to recommend, nay, commend. First, Adrastos acquaintances Campbell Robertson and Katy Reckdahl collaborated on a story connecting the monuments and family histories. Second, the local public radio station, WWNO, has a piece about a proposed monument to Oscar Dunn a former slave who was Gret Stet Lt. Governor during Reconstruction. The monument was never built. Dunn, however, is worthy of one. That’s where I’d like this process to go: Civil Rights figures. It’s what makes sense if we were striking a blow against white supremacy and the Confederacy.

I saw this week’s bucolic featured image on the Antiques Roadshow. I used it because I like the austere lines of the print by the austere Iowan, Grant Wood. Austere seems to be the word of the day. Besides, Dr. A won tickets to the Roadshow when it comes to New Orleans this July. I want them to know we’re coming.

I was horrified to learn from the Guardian that Elvis Presley’s spell is waning with the kids today. If they think of him at all, they think of bloated Elvis from the end of his life or the notorious body in the box picture.

As his peer Fats Domino would surely say, Ain’t That A Shame. Elvis brought rock-and-roll to the masses and was its first King, Besides, what will NOLA’s own Rolling Elvi do if the Elvis mystique is diminished?

Rolling Elvi, Muses Parade, 2011. Photo by Dr. A.

This week’s theme song, All Shook Up, was written by Otis Blackwell and recorded by Elvis in 1957. According to his biographer Peter Guralnick, the reason Elvis received a writing credit is that he came up with the title.

First up is Blackwell’s rendition followed by Elvis’ studio version and then the Jeff Beck Group with Rod Stewart belting it out.

I don’t know about you but I’m, uh, all shook up, which is why we’ll take a break at this point.

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Malaka Of The Week: Lost Causer Karl Oliver

As I said in the last Saturday post, I’m burnt out on Lost Cause Fest. I’m ready to move on but as Michael Corleone said in Godfather III: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” In Michael’s case it was La Cosa Nostra, in my case it’s the Lost Causers. And that is why Mississippi State Representative Karl Oliver is malaka of the week.

Malaka Oliver fits into the category of “honorees” I’ve never heard of before and hope to never hear from again. His sole current claim to fame is a Facebook post that surfaced via Mississippi Today:

I’m glad that so many posted screen shots of this unhinged rant because it may disappear much like the Lost Cause itself; other Mississippi GOPers have condemned the remarks because he used the L word: LYNCHED. It’s a word that should never be used but seems to be making a comeback in the age of pro-Trump alt-right shitbirds.

Lost Causers like Malaka Oliver aren’t big on facts. It was not the “leadership of Louisiana” that removed (not destroyed) the white supremacy monuments, it was the City of New Orleans. I remember when conservatives favored local self-government but that seems be a cause as lost as the Civil War and Jim Crow. As Mayor Mitch Landrieu put it while the Lee statue was coming down: 

“The Civil War is over; the Confederacy lost and we are better for it.”

That would appear to be evident but apparently denial is a river that runs through Karl Oliver’s district. It’s a Lost Cause because y’all lost the war. Unfortunately, they won the peace both on the ground and in the history books. That’s life in what Gore Vidal (who had deep Southern roots) called “The United States of Amnesia.”

This is an issue of local self-government. If other municipalities choose not to remove their monuments, ain’t nobody’s business but their own. I don’t believe in telling other people what to think or believe. It’s up to them. Malaka Oliver would be wise to mind his beeswax and butt out. And that is why Lost Causer Karl Oliver is malaka of the week.

INSTANT UPDATE: Malaka Oliver apologized under pressure for using the L word.  I guess this peckerwood shit stain won’t show up with a rope in New Orleans any time soon then.

I have some Lost Cause Fest lagniappe. First, a letter to the editor published by the Advocate, which is, in a word, unhinged. It’s amusing to see my yuppie, gentrifying Mayor referred to as having “a program of Social Marxism.”

Second, a NYT opinion article by Brent Staples about the motives of Richard Spencer and the tiki torch protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. It has a pretty darn catchy title, How the Swastika Became a Confederate Flag.

Finally, my own Krewe of Spank posted this reminder of  2016’s Arthur Hard-On Mardi Gras Guide on the book of faces. The post wouldn’t embed, but here’s the picture:

Spanks for the memories.

 

If “Blazing Saddles” were a Bizarro-land, post-apocalyptic horror film…

ClarkeTrump
(IMDB’s description of “Blazing Saddles” begins with “A corrupt politician hires a black sheriff…” which is all that film and this situation have in common.)

News broke Wednesday that Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke was taking a position in the Homeland Security Department, leaving me to recall a line George Carlin once uttered about Ross Perot’s challenge for the presidency in 1992:
“Just what a nation of idiots needs: A short, loud idiot.”

Coming up with a descriptor for Clarke is like trying to catch a fart and paint it green. It’s also as pleasurable. Many news organizations relied on the tried-and-true adjectives like “controversial” and “polarizing,” while NY Mag reached for “actual fascist.” A vulgar part of me would have gone with “fucktard” while a more journalistic aspect of me would actually settle on “Trumpian.”

And maybe that’s the best indication that this story is true, in spite of a non-denial denial by the office itself that Clarke hasn’t been given a position at Homeland Security.

This guy is 100 percent Trump with a better haircut a worse choice of clothing.

For people lucky enough to not know who he is, David Clarke has “served” (quotes intentional) Milwaukee County for the past 15 years as its sheriff. He was appointed by Gov. Scott McCallum in 2002 to finish a retiring sheriff’s term and then kept on rolling. Clarke has done and said a ridiculous number of incredibly stupid things. Trying to pick and choose some of them is like trying to put together a Rolling Stones Greatest Hits Album: No matter what you pick, there’s another incredible contender that gets left off. Consider a few of these beauties:

 

It’s not just the bombast, the rapid-fire threats and the general lack of decorum that makes the “Trumpian” moniker fit this man. It’s the way in which he has manipulated reality to improve his personal lot in life. While alleged Billionaire Trump paints himself as a champion of the blue-collar working folk, Clarke masquerades as a Democrat. He registers as a member of the Blue Team primarily because Milwaukee is a deep blue sea among the outlying red rural areas of the state.

Clarke has also followed Trump’s lead on issues of safety and security, painting pictures of illegals running roughshod over the citizens of the country. Meanwhile, neither can see the crises he causes in his own proximate area (Trump’s chaotic White House, Clarke’s dungeon-esque jail).

Like Trump, Clarke is nothing like what he portends to be. Everything about him is a blustering con, including his bedazzled, flair-filled uniform, which Army vet Charles Clymer took to task in a series of hysterical tweets.

Perhaps the hardest thing to discuss regarding Clarke, given that this is the third rail of society, is the issue of race. Clarke himself has played both sides of the race card, in one case swapping racial slurs with Mark Lamont Hill of CNN, going as far as to call him a “jigaboo” on Twitter. The Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP has frequently criticized Clarke, with the group’s president noting, “If there was a white sheriff making those statements, they would have demanded his resignation by now.”

This is true: Clarke is essentially part Bull Connor, part bullshit. He’d be the first one to tell a black kid to pull up his pants and that protestors are a bunch of snowflakes and the conservative white folk just eat that shit up.

Or to pull a line from the great movie, “Lean on Me” : “I know why you like Clark. He’s a guard dog. Does your dirty work. Keeps the black folk in line.”

I have never managed to understand how Clarke kept getting reelected as sheriff in my hometown area. After the first term, it was pretty clear he wasn’t a Democrat. After the second term, it was clear he was a bully. Now, it’s clear the man is fucking crazy, so he naturally had to find someone similarly screwed up to hire him.

And as much as I want him out of here, I can’t imagine we’ll be in any better shape with him sharing asshole tips with The Donald.

Guest Post: Lost Cause Fest, Virginia Style

There was a rather Klannish Lost Cause Fest rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend. I have an old friend who is a native Virginian and longtime Charlottesville resident. I reached out to him, asking for a local’s perspective. He has blogged in the past as Parenthetical, so we revived that pen name for this post. We begin with a photo of  Lost Cause Fest, Virginia Style:

Take it away, Parenthetical:

It was a good weekend for home and garden sections around town. Richard Spencer, the UVA alumnus who has been banned from 25 European countries for his supremacist efforts, found an excuse to come back to Charlottesville last Saturday. Some folks carry a torch for their college sweetheart, but Spencer returned to carry a tiki torch for a Robert E. Lee statue that has been endangered by a recent bout of citizen input. Spencer’s appearance made national news because the unofficial leader of the Alt White got several dozen other folks to carry torches, too. (The revolution begins on Aisle 8, just follow the scent of victim complexes and lemongrass. Be careful with that lamp oil, Eugene.)

As an Albemarle County resident who lives about 10 minutes away from the statue, this protest was unwelcome, but even in a town like C’ville, it wasn’t that surprising. In the election-year yard sign wars, Trump/Pence dominated once you got even ten minutes out of town. Plus there’s the occasional Confederate flag you’ll still see in yards not much further out.

Another reason: I grew up an hour down the road in 1970s Richmond, where the memories and grudges of the Late Unpleasantness were so pervasive and entrenched that a kid wouldn’t even recognize them as such. Let’s hit the highlights.

My first Little League game was at Jefferson-Davis Elementary. My mother bought me some old Civil War board game at a yard sale, and I was always the South as a matter of course (my choice, she didn’t care). I went to private school for one year early on, and they used even/odd birthdays to divide us into two standing groups for purposes of recess/exercises/lunch/etc. You were either a Jackson or a Lee. This was over a century after Appomattox. Jacksons and Lees.

That doesn’t even get us down to Monument Avenue, with its stretch of formidable tributes to the Confederate giants. There’s Jackson, Lee, Davis … and thanks to his eponymous Circle, you even know exactly where J.E.B. Stuart is at all times (which goes to show how nostalgia always winds up improving on truth at least a little).

There’s a Southern accent where I come from, and I can’t imagine feeling truly at home anywhere else. Yet it was pretty easy to spend one’s entire youth blind to the discomfort and second-tier status that black families have faced daily from these persistent reminders, down to having to be a “Rebel” if you attend a certain high school (no, that hasn’t changed). You could probably still go your whole life in Richmond and never hear the word “treason” associated with the men so elegantly preserved for posterity on the avenue.

It was only well into adulthood before I recognized words like “treason” and “traitor” as relevant on par with the more familiar compliments. Yet all of those men knew exactly what they were doing back then. They surely knew that if they survived but weren’t victorious, they would likely face life in prison or death for their choice. Credit where it’s due, there’s bravery in that.

In the event that they lost, they sure didn’t expect to see their names plastered on dozens of schools and military bases for generations after the war. I bet those bleeding-heart Yankees regret going overboard with that aspect of postbellum make-nice — allowing names of the leaders of the insurrection to get set in concrete atop government installations(!), to be followed by their profiles cast in metal and literally placed on pedestals.

There they would remain throughout the South, waiting for the inevitable stares and questions from the next young wave of the Confederacy’s descendants, and then the next. They provided steadfast validation of the lost cause’s legitimacy, feeding an addiction to grievance when it should have been starved.

Which brings us back to Charlottesville 2017 and Klan Lite rallies, with milquetoast “What, these torches? But it’s dark out here!” attempts at intimidation by racists both too dumb and/or too timid to wear sheets. These folks like to lean on some government obligation toward “tradition” and “heritage” in these debates, but they don’t realize (or don’t let on that they realize) it was only the Civil Rights Act that brought the Confederate flag back out of the pickup truck windows and bedroom closets and museums and into vogue again around certain statehouses. Again, grievance about the loss of privilege, posing as pride.

Reasonable people can disagree about the statues. Even the mayor of this comparatively liberal island in central Virginia, a man who condemned this little tantrum flambe immediately, has supported keeping the Lee statue in place. It’s complicated. Still, when the mayor said, “This event involving torches at night in Lee Park was either profoundly ignorant or was designed to instill fear in our minority populations in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK,” all I wanted to say was, “Yeah, I think that’s what they call a false choice, bub.”

What government of the people and for the people can prioritize the discriminatory worldview of a long-gone era over the right of each living, breathing citizen to feel equally welcome in public spaces? Over a person’s confidence in the full true weight of their equality under the law? The next decision in the ongoing legal wrangling over the Lee statue is due in June.

At the end of the day, a culture should not ignore its history, but there’s a lot of room between remembering and celebrating. Buoyed by the knowledge of that history and the wisdom (hopefully) imparted by time, a community has the right to choose its heroes. Just ask all the folks who renamed their entire counties after Confederates. Today, we can surrender that power to now-dead, all-white committees who made decisions in meeting rooms down the hall from the colored water fountain — people who, let’s face it, weren’t commissioning those statues so we could “learn from the darker parts of our history,” — or we can choose better.

Lost Cause Fest Update: Two Down, Two To Go

My friend James Karst is obsessed with Jefferson Davis’ arrest by Union soldiers whilst in women’s clothing. I’ve written about this before in a Saturday post and even used the above picture. Davis in drag hardly paints the heroic picture that Lost Causers wish to portray. Wishful thinking is their forte. In fact, Davis was an incompetent leader closer in temperament and ability to Donald Trump than to fellow Lost Cause icon Robert E. Lee.

The Davis monument came down in the wee hours of Thursday morning. Even before a story was posted Wednesday night by the Advocate, it was the worst kept secret in town. That’s why I was vexed with people who were peeved about the article. There was no major violence last night and has been none since the process began thanks to some stellar work by NOPD. The citizens of New Orleans have a right to know what our government is up to. I still believe the monuments should be removed in the light of day. The Lost Causers are all hat and no cattle.

I’ve been pondering the significance of the Jeff Davis statue. It’s a monument that honors the leader of a defeated power. It’s as if Bismarck had a statue of Louis Napoleon erected in Berlin after the Franco-Prussian war. I don’t recall a flood of Kaiser Bill monuments in allied capitals after the Great War. It doesn’t even happen in other civil wars: Benito Juarez didn’t pay homage to Maximilian after winning that struggle. Juarez didn’t build a wall either. In short, the Davis monument is just plain weird unless it’s about white supremacy. It is.

Since I’m allergic to Lost Cause Festers and need my sleep, I was not there to bear witness to Davis’ downfall. One could even call it the second time Davis died in New Orleans. The local media were there, tweeting the night away. Here’s are some tweets from Danny Monteverde of WWL-TV along with some commentary:

This is my favorite detail of the process. I wonder if anyone was tempted to pop bubbles to annoy the Lost Causers.

Do they expect Zombie Jeff Davis along with Zombie Judah P. Benjamin to emerge and save the day? Btw, Confederate Secretary of State Benjamin is a local without a major monument. It may have had something to do with his faith. He was Jewish. White supremacists are typically anti-Semitic and don’t consider Jews to be fellow honkies.

I’d like to close this segment with a tweet that says everything you need to know about the Lost Causers:

This is proof positive that the Lost Causers who sat hillbilly shiva at this monument were “outside agitators,” not locals. Not even dread pro-monuments Lt. Gov Billy Nungesser would say such a thing. Stay classy, Lost Causers.

I hope Mayor Landrieu keeps his word that the remaining two monuments will come down “sooner rather than later.” We need to move past this and get back to what passes for normal in New Orleans. This process has dragged on so long that I’ve been tempted to put a dress on the Davis statue as a way of saying frock you to the Lost Causers.

Repeat after me: Tear them down now, Mr. Mayor. Stop the madness.

The Fog Of History: Lost Cause Fest Update

Pro tip: the first T is silent.

There hasn’t been any progress on removing the white supremacy monuments since I last wrote about it on May 2. The Lost Causers continue to hang out at the remaining monuments, which are now surrounded with police barricades to help keep the peace.

There was a pro-removal march from Congo Square to Lee Circle on Sunday. I didn’t attend because I don’t agree with all of the aims of march organizers, Take ‘Em Down NOLA. I take a more nuanced position on future monument and street name issues. I am, however, delighted to report that there were no incidents of major violence on Sunday; just a bit of pushing , shoving, and punching. There were reports that heavily armed wingnuts might be descending on New Orleans, but if they showed, they kept their powder dry as it were. NOPD announced sterner measures and enforced them. The protest and counter-protest went off without a hitch. Let’s score one for Mayor Landrieu and Chief Harrison.

There was a brief flurry of activity surrounding the PGT Beauregard  statue at City Park. A pro-monuments group tried to obtain a temporary restraining order claiming that the statue is owned by the park, not the city. The TRO was denied but a hearing is scheduled some time this week Given the fact that the City Council voted to declare the four monuments “public nuisances,” this latest gambit is apt to fail. I won’t even dignify the law moving through the state lege with a comment. In and of itself, it’s a public nuisance. Retroactive laws are disfavored both in Louisiana Civil Law and American public law, so it should have no effect on the current controversy.

The Beauregard statue has always been the toughest case of the four scheduled to be removed. Gen. Beauregard supported racial equality and healing in post-bellum Louisiana. Whether or not he wore bellum bottoms is beside the point…

There’s an interesting piece at New Orleans Magazine’s web site by its editor, Errol Laborde. He wants to leave the Beauregard monument be. I don’t agree with him but he makes an intelligent, historically based argument. Unfortunately, nuance and this issue do not go together, which is a pity. History tends to be foggy, not black and white.

Very few people on the “let ’em stay” side have attempted to make a sophisticated argument like the one advanced by Laborde. More typical are the neo-Confederate, neo-Nazi hillbilly types who rant about heritage and against political correctness.  Then there’s this remarkable comment that popped up on WWL-TV News:

“We love our history,” said Melissa Wainwright. “We love the African-Americans. We love jazz. If it weren’t for slavery, as bad as it was, would we have jazz in New Orleans?”

Local Italo-Americans were also involved in birthing jazz and many of the early jazzers such as Jelly Roll Morton were descendants of free people of color. So, yeah, we would have had jazz without human bondage.

I glanced at Ms. Wainwright’s FB page and it’s full of right-wing conspiracy buffery and praise for the dread Milo Yiannopoulos. My least favorite ethnic Greek is her favorite gay. So it goes.

I’ve mentioned Michael Tisserand before as George Herriman’s biographer. He’s also the former editor of Gambit Weekly as well as an arm-chair philosopher or is that parader? He wrote an excellent op-ed piece for the NYT wherein he made an oft neglected point:

In the late 1980s, when I was visiting New Orleans, the city I now call home, I stopped in a neighborhood drugstore and met a charming and talkative pharmacist. As he rang up my purchase, he placed a thin newspaper in my bag. “You might like to read this,” he said.

Later, I opened the bag and saw the journal of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, filled with stories lauding the organization’s founder, David Duke.

I recall the initial shock but also a sense of recognition. It was just one of countless “just between us” exchanges that I had already been offered in my lifetime. A white-on-white “just between us” moment might take the form of a pointed comment or just a knowing glance. Once it came to me in the middle of a handshake.

They are not limited to the South, but I have come to know them well in the 30 years that I’ve now lived in New Orleans.

I’ve had many of those moments myself. It’s as awkward as hell. It’s gotten to the point where I no longer bite my tongue unless it’s going to waste too much time. People like that druggist aren’t going to be convinced by the likes of me or Michael Tisserand. It’s like trying to talk sense to a Trumper. Of course, they’re all Trumpers now.

Finally, I mentioned having a more nuanced position on future monuments controversies. I first stated it in a 2015 post, The Fog Of History: The Jacksonian Straw Man. I think that each park, school, statue, street name, or whatever needs to be asessed individually. We need to look at why they were named for a specific person and what that person’s local ties were. Intent is everything. All four of the monuments in dispute right now were erected to either honor the Confederacy or to advance the cause of white supremacy. That is why I favor their removal.

The Andrew Jackson statue at Jackson Square is a harder case. It was erected to honor his role in the Battle of New Orleans, not his slave ownership, rabid racism or overrated presidency. It’s definitely not a pro-Confederate monument. Union Gen. Benjamin Butler added a plaque during the Civil War that proclaims: “The Union must and shall be preserved.” I think the statue should stay but if folks want to add more information explaining Jackson’s role in our history, that’s fine with me. Intent and context are everything.

I realize that this is an issue where nuance went to die, but the simplistic solutions offered by people on both extremes will lead to endless controversy when there are other vital local issues that need to be addressed. I neither want to honor white supremacy nor witness a rewriting of history like that in the Soviet Union where St. Petersburg became Petrograd and then Leningrad before reverting to St. Petersburg. I give that a very low grad indeed…

The most important thing right now is that the three monuments be removed as soon as possible. The City Council has spoken. It’s time for Davis, Lee, and Beauregard to come down. It’s past time for the right-wing “outside agitators” to go home and bother people in their own communities.

Tear them down now, Mr. Mayor. Stop the madness.

Bomb the Suburbs

Fucking FINALLY, someone pays attention: 

Trump’s real base, the actual backbone of fascism, isn’t poor and working-class voters, but middle-class and affluent whites. Often self-employed, possessed of a retirement account and a home as a nest egg, this is the stratum taken in by Horatio Alger stories. They can envision playing the market well enough to become the next Trump. They haven’t won “big-league,” but they’ve won enough to be invested in the hierarchy they aspire to climb. If only America were made great again, they could become the haute 
bourgeoisie—the storied “1 percent.”

Trump’s most institutionally entrenched middle-class base includes police and Border Patrol unions, whom he promptly unleashed after his inauguration by allowing them free rein in enforcing his vague but terrifying immigration orders, and by appointing an attorney general who would call off investigations into troubled police departments. As wanton as their human-rights atrocities in the years leading up to the Trump era have been, law-enforcement agents are already making their earlier conduct look like a model of restraint. They are Trump’s most passionate supporters and make concrete his contempt for anyone not white, male, and rich.

I’ve been yelling about this for at least five years.

Source.

During the 2011 Wisconsin gubernatorial recall, the reddest parts of the state, which went the hardest for Walker, weren’t purely rural. They were the white-flight suburbs of Milwaukee. People there moved out of the city and nurtured in themselves and their children a story about how black and brown people “ruined” “their” neighborhoods. The city was a shithole out of which they’d been driven, and they were going to get their revenge.

National treasure Heather Havrilesky got at this right after the election when the national press was still jerking itself off about Hillbilly Elegy, about suburban discomfort and the need to conform:

In the suburbs the constant fear is “safety.” I recently sat at a suburban lunch table and listened to three women my own age talk for an hour about how to keep their purses safe during pre-school dropoff. Somebody knew somebody who’d heard something on the radio about men doing smash-and-grab with purses out of minivans and this was a federal case now. The preschool should have security cameras. Here’s my brand of car alarm.

(Just don’t leave your purse in your car, then. Don’t be an idiot. Why are we still talking about this?)

A group of moms at a playground recently devolved into talking about the lack of indoor playspaces nearby. I mentioned one, in a predominantly Hispanic suburb, which was bright and open and always had plenty of room for more kids. “That neighborhood is so sketchy,” one of the women told me. Had she been there? Of course not, her husband would never allow it! Everybody nodded; the world was dangerous and you had to protect yourself! It’s just awful about things these days. People are so goddamned scared.

Local TV news feeds this phenomenon, and the local suburban press as well. The city is always a cesspool of black and brown criminals, homeless, needy, looking to carjack you the minute you go downtown for a play. People always want to take what’s yours. If you’re from the city, you left because you HAD TO move away to protect yourself (and your children, the ready-made excuse for your racist crap) and that sense of being driven out by outside forces (black outside forces; unscrupulous real estate agents, not so much) informs everything around you now. You moved to be safe, but you don’t feel safe because now you’ve let fear control you and once is all it takes.

If you know anything about inherited trauma, you know what you tell your children about why you live where you live. People my age didn’t flee African-Americans marching for open housing but they damn well know why their parents and grandparents did, and among themselves, after a couple of beers, they’ll tell you they know how to keep everything under control.

From the Nation article:

Their material security bound up in the value of their real-estate assets, suburban white people had powerful incentives to keep their neighborhoods white. Just by their very proximity, black people would make their neighborhoods less desirable to future white home-buyers, thereby depreciating the value of the location. Location being the first rule of real estate, suburban homeowners nurtured racist attitudes, while deluding themselves that they weren’t excluding black people for reasons beyond their pocketbooks.

So the people who support Trump the hardest? The people who backed him with their donations and lawn signs and votes? They’re not trailer trash. They’re worse, and it’s because they think they’re better.

They think they’re better than trailer trash because they don’t use the n-word (as they stake a BLUE LIVES MATTER or a WE BACK THE BADGE sign into their lawns and ask why “minorities” have to make everything about race). They’d never tell a Hispanic woman to go back to “her” country if they saw her in the grocery store, but the next time they’re two glasses into the rosé at book club they’ll wonder if she was talking about them when she was speaking Spanish, and declare that immigrants don’t have to learn English anymore.

They’re not going to yell at a woman on the street to make them a sandwich. They will, however, tell a woman with a job that it’s too bad she can’t stay home with her kids, and say they’d never let “a stranger” take care of their children. They’ll put a bumper sticker on their cars: It’s a child, not a choice, or Defund Planned Parenthood, but they’re not bigots or sexists themselves.

They think their fear is more valid than the racism of some Confederate Flag-waving jackhole with a white truck and brown teeth. They think it’s more virtuous to be scared than to be evil. And if they ever do start to wonder if they might be monsters, if they might be on the wrong side of something, well, they have the trailer trash to look at and say, we’re not that. We have one ass instead of two, and nobody in our family’s in jail for making meth.

Dad worked in an office, not a coal mine. We’re better than them. We just vote for the same people, over and over, no matter what, and if we tell ourselves we have a different reason, maybe it buys us out of hell.

A.

Le Sigh

I know that Pepe Le Pew is in bad odor in many quarters, but he still cracks me up. He’s a cartoon skunk who sounds like Charles Boyer, y’all. He’s not real. One of Monsieur Le Pew’s catchphrases was, Le Sigh. And that’s what I did when I checked on the French presidential election yesterday. In this case, it was le sigh of relief that Emmanuel Macron defeated the malodorous Marine Le Pen. How do you like that? I’ve gone from Le Pew to Le Pen. They’re both stinkers, but only one is dangerous and it ain’t the toon.

Watching CNN cover the results gave me a mild headache. Instead of talking heads who knew something about either French politics or foreign policy in general they had political consultants and even a former aide to that legendary Francophile Senator Mike Lee of Utah. Yeah, I was being sarcastic there. CNN’s coverage inspired this tweet:

I make no bones about being an expert. I know something about French political history but my French is at the Pepe Le Pew level: rudimentary at best, stinky at worst. I do, however, know that every country has its own distinctive politics and the equation used by many before the election was nuts: Brexit + Trump = Le Pen for le populist wave win. Merde.

That formulation conveniently skipped the poor performance by Gert Wilders’ far right party in the late Dutch election. Populist nationalism is not a contagious disease. Each country has its own strain; in France, the Le Pens are associated in the public mind with xenophobes, collaborators, Holocaust deniers, and Vichy Fascists. Besides, Le Pen blew it in the final teevee debate. Bigly:

In the end Ms. Le Pen failed to “undemonize,” spectacularly. She failed during the course of the campaign, when her angry rallies drew the Front inexorably back into the swamp from which it had emerged. And then she failed decisively in one of the campaign’s critical moments, last week’s debate with Mr. Macron, when she effectively “redemonized” herself and the party, as many French commentators noted.

It was an hourslong tirade against Mr. Macron, laced with name-calling and epithets, and woefully deficient in substance. She appeared lost on subject after subject, fumbling on one of her signature issues — withdrawing from the euro — that is opposed by a majority of French. Something essential about Ms. Le Pen, and the National Front, had been revealed to France.

Mr. Macron, on the other hand, demonstrated a quality that French voters, unlike many Anglo-Saxon ones, have long found essential in their successful candidates: cool mastery of the critical issues confronting the country. Where Ms. Le Pen repeatedly lost herself in the weeds, Mr. Macron sailed right through them. Whether he will now be able to translate that knowledge into action is another question.

Word. There will be two rounds of parliamentary elections in June and Macron’s new party needs to elect some deputies or else he will be le screwed and Vichy Fascism will make a comeback in 2022. Le Pen did receive 34% of the vote in this rout, which is nearly double her father’s performance against Jacques Chirac in the 2002 run-off. The Le Pens aren’t going anywhere. They’re playing the long game.

The biggest difference between our late election and Sunday in France is that the establishment right did NOT support Le Pen. They supported the Republic and democracy against the Vichy Fascist threat. In contrast,  the American establishment right made a pact with the orange devil. I almost said “sold their souls” but they’re souless stinkers. Has anyone ever seen Mitch McConnell’s reflection in a mirror? I thought not.

I must admit to saying “I told you so” yesterday on social media. Every election is not about America. France is not America, and America is not France. Vive la difference. Vive la France.

That concludes this inexpert post about the French election. Hey, at least I resisted the temptation to call it Pepe Le Pew meets Marine Le Pen.

All this talk of Le Pen and Le Pew has given me le earworm:

Lost Cause Fest: The May Day Melee

Photograph by Seymour D. Hipster.

Lost Cause Fest has been going on for about a week on the Jefferson Davis Parkway neutral ground. It is, of course, the location of the Jefferson Davis monument, which is slated to come down some time in the near future. It can’t come soon enough for us locals.

The Lost Causers come from redneckier parts of the South. Many seem to be Arkansans as well as a few Okies and assorted other peckerwoods. I’m relying on second-hand information since I have no desire to get caught up between the far-right neo-Confederates and the far-left antifa group. Some of the former are toting guns and many of the latter think that provoking them would be jolly good fun. The tactics of the far-right and left seem to be converging of late: here, there, and everywhere. The good news is that no shots have been fired and the cops were on top of things last night. NOPD excels at crowd control. We have Carnival to thank for that.

There were rumors that the Davis monument was coming down on May Day. I guess the Lost Causers think our gentrifying yuppie Mayor is a commie or something. Many of them, however, look like they might be wingnut wiccans celebrating Beltane. Actually, they look more like people who used to follow Lynyrd Skynyrd around the hookworm belt. I can imagine them trying to light each other ablaze during the Bic lighter portion of Free Bird. Nowadays they’re more into hippie burning…

While I have not ventured to Mid City, many of my friends have done so and posted their archaeological findings on social media. I didn’t see any maypoles but there *were* some red flags as well as Nine Inch Nails karaoke. I am not making this up.

Let’s start with a picture of a sign that makes me laugh. We all need some comic relief on the day after the May Day Melee:

Photograph by Skooks.

We love our signs in New Orleans. We usually make them to attract Carnival throws, not repel Lost Cause Festers.

Next up is local photog Cheryl Gerber who conversed with the Lost Causers including a black dude from Oklahoma. Hand to God, I am not making this up. I tried to embed the photo album link without any success, so click here. It’s worth it. Believe me.

I have a confession to make. I didn’t coin the term Lost Cause Fest. That dubious honor goes to First Draft pun consultant and Zombie-Picayune dude, Diamond James Karst.

On the scene for the maypoleless May Day Melee was Gambit Editor and Adrastos crony Kevin Allman who wrote a piece about it after posting some tremendous tweets.

No word on whether Kevin tried to pass himself off as kin to Duane and Gregg in order to get the deplorables talking. Of course, that’s all they seem to do. They could even be described as redneck yippies. There were more media and anti-Confederates there than so-called “monument protectors.”

I’m glad that NOPD has secured the area but it’s time for that statue to come down before things escalate again. We don’t want anyone to get hurt in this war over symbols. Jefferson Davis’ main link to New Orleans is that he died here in 1889. I don’t want anyone on either side to meet the same fate near the doomed statue.

There’s an oddball sub-plot to the monuments mishigas. There’s a bar near the Jefferson Davis statue: The Holy Ground Irish Pub. They’ve had a series of run-ins with Lost Cause Festers. They have a strict “our bathrooms are only for customers” policy. It’s especially relevant during Mardi Gras and not unreasonable the rest of the year. Instead of buying a beverage, the Lost Causers have taken umbrage at this policy and bombarded the bar with nasty social media reviews. That shows how tacky the neo-Confederates really are. Fuck them sideways. No Guinness or Jameson’s for you lot.

In solidarity with the Holy Ground Irish Pub, here’s a Celtic-rock selection from Wolfstone:

I’ll give the last tweet to the anti-confederates who serenaded the “outside agitators” with an obscene little ditty:

Notice how I said last tweet, not word? I’d like to address the orange elephant in the room: the Trump factor. There’s little doubt that the protests are larger and more voluble because the Insult Comedian is in office. He’s given the red light to the Lost Causers and I expect more of the same in the future.  I halfway expect the president* to sic Andrew Jackson on us.

The only good thing about Lost Cause Fest is that it’s allowed an old liberal like me to use the term “outside agitators.” That’s what the peckerwoods and Klan humpers called civil rights protesters back in the day. Turnabout is fair play, y’all.

Since I’ve gone on about May Day and maypoles, I’ll give the *real* last word to XTC:

 

Malaka Of The Week: Corey Stewart

Corey Stewart is a far-right Trump humping Republican politician running for Governor of Virginia. One of his main campaign issues is “preserving” Confederate monuments in the commonwealth. Virginia is a place where there’s not currently much controversy over Confederate iconography. That is why Corey Stewart has injected himself into the New Orleans monuments removal controversy. And that is why he is malaka of the week.

The other day I urged pro-removal forces in New Orleans to use the term white supremacy instead of Confederate. It’s not only more accurate, it puts the onus on monuments supporters. Who wants to stand up for white supremacy as opposed to historic preservation? The Confederate label allows them babble about “erasing history.”

Much of Malaka Stewart’s babbling has been on his Tweeter Tube feed. Here’s a sampler:

I’m not from the South BUT I’ve lived in the Gret Stet of Louisiana for 60% of my life. It’s not just “Yankees” who want the white supremacy monuments removed. It’s funny how racist malakas like Stewart think only white folks are genuine Southerners. They are not.  Hell, Stewart himself is a transplant from Minnesota. I think he’s overcompensating for his own Yankeetude.

I don’t know any black folks who favor keeping these monuments to white supremacy. Imagine that. I wonder if Malaka Stewart considers them 3/5 of a Southerner. That’s how the constitution calculated it. I have a hunch that Stewart has about as much use for black folks as he does for “mainstream cuckservatives.”

Malaka Stewart claims to believe that “blue lives matter.” I suspect he’s unaware that the so-called Liberty monument celebrated an uprising of white vigilantes against the racially mixed police force of New Orleans in 1874. Did those blue lives matter less because they were opposed to white supremacy? Repeat after me: white supremacy, not Confederate.

I find it beyond ironic that Southern conservatives who claim to believe in state’s rights are injecting themselves into a local controversy. Stay the hell out of our business. The removal was decided democratically by a vote by the New Orleans City Council. They held public hearings as did the HDLC (Historic District Landmarks Commission) which also voted for the removal of the four white supremacy monuments. Repeat after me: stop being an “outside agitator” and stay the hell out of our business.

The lingering controversy over the Lost Cause’s latest loss is partially due to how badly history is taught in the US&A. Supporters of the monuments insist the Civil War was not fought over slavery. They are not only wrong, they are willfully delusional. It’s a pity that aggressively stupid politicians are capitalizing on historical illiteracy to score points. Of course, stupid is in nowadays. And that is why Corey Stewart is malaka of the week.

Repeat after me: white supremacy, not Confederate. I’ll give Florida Man Tom Petty the last word:

Hmm, maybe Corey Stewart got into the magic mushrooms. Of course, his hallucinations would involve Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson. Holy bad trip, Batman.

NOLA White Supremacy Monuments: One Down, Three To Go

The process of removing four Jim Crow era monuments from their current locations has begun. I wish that the city had NOT done so under cover of darkness but the Mayor has said that there were death threats against the work crew. Unfortunately, I believe him. BUT since other security measures were taken, I still think it should have been done during the day. I, for one, am proud of this action, which is why I don’t think we should be sneaking around. It gives the appearance of wrongdoing when they’re doing the right thing. Celebrating hatred and racism is unacceptable.

I also wish Mayor Landrieu would stop calling them Confederate monuments. The one that was removed this morning, the so-called Liberty monument, honors the triumph of white supremacy during Reconstruction. The remaining three statues honor Confederate dignitaries-only one local-and were erected in celebration of white supremacy, which is why I use that term.

It would have been better if there were a post-removal plan in place. I think some form of public display in a park or museum that places them in context is the way to answer charges that we’re trying to erase history.  The removal was relatively well thought out but the aftermath remains murky, which gives ammunition to the erstwhile Gret Stet Fuhrer:

The Alamo, of course, is a monument to Texas independence, not white supremacy. Context and intent are everything is this debate. How does Dukkke think we can “erase” the Founding Fathers? I think their monuments are safe. I would, however, like to shove the Washingtion Memorial up Duke’s ass.

Anyway, I came here to praise the Mayor, as well as to bury the white supremacy monuments, so I’ll stop quibbling about details. I’ll save the nitpicking for another day.

Here’s how one local teevee news organization covered the removal: